Applications for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's 2021 National Critics Institute are open

Helmed by the Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones, NCI is a one-week virtual boot camp for early and mid-career arts writers to strengthen their skills. Apply by April 29. Full scholarships are available. There is no fee to apply or to attend the program. The 2021 National Critics Institute will take place online via Zoom sessions July 5-10, 2021. 
One of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's oldest programs, NCI is an intensive professional workshop designed for arts writers and critics (in fields such as theater, dance, film, music and food) looking to strengthen and diversify their skills in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced industry. Director Chris Jones, critic and columnist at the Chicago Tribune and Associate Director, Naveen Kumar, head America’s leading boot camp for arts journalism, offering an intensive course of study for writers of diverse experience levels.
The program features  a world-class faculty composed of America’s leading arts critics and an array of special guests from across the cultural industries. A virtual modification of the program in light of current conditions offers an intimate setting for in-depth writing critiques and individualized feedback. Fellows will also have the rare opportunity to interface with top editors in the field, develop professional connections, and glean invaluable industry insights.
Recent alumni include prominent cultural writers: Soraya Nadia McDonald, Ashley Lee, Diep Tran, Jose Solis, Suzy Evans, Wei-Huan Chen, Christine Cauterruci, Jay Vanasco, and Erin Keane, among many others.
Here’s what you need to know about applying for the 2021 National Critics Institute: 

  • Applications will be accepted from April 1-29, 2021. All applications are due by April 29 at 11:59pm PST, and early submissions are encouraged. 
  • The application is online at and there is no application fee.
  • We enthusiastically encourage women, nonbinary folks, and writers of color to apply. 
  • Thanks to the generosity of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, applicants from Knight communities are eligible for a grant to fully support their participation at NCI. Writers who live or work in one of the following 26 Knight communities are strongly encouraged to apply: Long Beach, California; San Jose, California; Boulder, Colorado; Bradenton, Florida; Miami, Florida; Palm Beach County, Florida; Tallahassee, Florida; Columbus, Georgia; Macon, Georgia; Milledgeville, Georgia; Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; Wichita, Kansas; Lexington, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; Duluth, Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota; Biloxi, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Akron, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; State College, Pennsylvania; Columbia, South Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Aberdeen, South Dakota. 
  • We welcome applications from any location and fully fund all candidates accepted to the program.
  • Our website is a terrific resource for folks interested in learning more. There, we’ve provided a full description of the program, and a comprehensive application preplist. You can check it out all out here: